The Open Boat Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan will help students analyze the development of a central idea, as well as examine the word choices and structure that are used to evoke emotion after they read 'The Open Boat' by Stephen Crane.

Learning Objective

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Summarize the text in relationship to the author's development of a central idea
  • Analyze the author's word choices and structure to evoke emotion from the reader


1-2 hours

Curriculum Standards


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.


Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.


  • correspondent
  • fate
  • hesitating
  • lightheartedness
  • oars
  • obligation
  • oiler
  • overturn
  • underfoot


  • copies of The Open Boat by Stephen Crane
  • paper
  • pens
  • highlighters

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • Note: This lesson plan is designed for after your students have read The Boat by Stephen Crane.
  • To review the story, read The Open Boat by Stephen Crane Summary as a class.
  • Pause after Section I, discuss:
    • Who are the men on the boat?
    • Why are they traveling in a small boat?
  • Pause after Section III, discuss:
    • What do the men see in the distance?
    • What does the captain offer the men to give them a break from rowing?
  • Pause after Section V, discuss:
    • What do the men do to prepare in case some of them do not survive?
    • Why do the men tie a towel to a stick?
    • Why is the man on shore waving his coat at the boat?
  • Read the remainder of the lesson, discuss:
    • What are some of the dangers the men face?
    • How do the men get to shore?
    • Which of the men survive? What message is the author sending?
  • Ask if there are any questions, then give the students the lesson's printable worksheet to assess their understanding of the story.
  • Check the answers as a class.


Analyze Author's Choices

Materials: copies of The Open Boat by Stephen Crane, highlighters, pens, paper

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